With two bachelor’s degrees behind him, Oswil Liz-Reyes just couldn’t seem to get ahead in the job market – until he enrolled in SUNY Broome.
A student in the college’s Business Information Management field, Liz-Reyes recently landed a job in his new field as a graphic designer after a single semester, thanks to a recommendation from an instructor who encouraged him to apply. In addition to his work at a downtown firm, he continues to work on his degree part-time with online courses.
A talented artist with a love for writing, Liz-Reyes graduated from the Fiorello H. Laguardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York City, a specialized institution that encourages students to hone their artistic talents while they build an academic foundation. In 2007, he had the opportunity to do an artist residency in Vermont – and saw first-hand the need to combine his love for art with practicality.
“I saw a lot of artists who wanted to fulfill themselves creatively but needed a full-time job,” he reflected.
In 2008, he headed to Binghamton University, where he earned two bachelor’s degrees – one in studio art and the other in political philosophy which, he hoped, could broaden his career options. After graduation, he chose to remain in the Binghamton area, where his fiancée landed a job of her own – but struggled to find work in his field.
“After I got my two degrees, I was working in the restaurant field. I kept looking for jobs, but no one wanted to hire a full-time artist,” he said.
He kept active in the local arts scene on a part-time basis, working on First Fridays as a gallery assistant and appraisal associate for local art galleries, and finally as publicist for the Phelps Mansion Museum. Along the way, he dabbled in graphic design, creating material for friends, his church and others.
He and his fiancée ultimately decided to head back to the classroom to change their career paths. She’s working on a Master’s degree in social work and public administration, while Liz -Reyes opted for SUNY Broome’s Business Information Management program, drawn by the prospect of learning Illustrator, Dreamweaver and other programs in demand.
“With the way I’ve seen the job market move, not only do graphic designers need to be able to design, but coding is an important part of it,” he said.
At SUNY Broome, Liz-Reyes said he found his professors to be enthusiastic guides. An added plus – a bit cliché, he admits – is the small class sizes, which allow for more individual attention than larger schools.
One of the greatest assets of the BIM program, however, is the development of skills needed in the job market – and easily provable to a prospective employer.
“It can be really fulfilling when you’re learning all these things,” Liz-Reyes reflected. “These are hard skills that you can take to a job.”